By: Susan Piergeorge, MS, RD, Author Date: 9/21/11
Its official-the Baby Boomers have hit middle age. Born 1946 to 1964 we have moved in to the middle part of our lives. And, being that we are known as the rebellious generation, we are likely to rebel against aging as well. Here are a few sensible and solid nutrition tips for Baby Boomers to help them age with gusto.
1. Be selective in what you eat. As we age, our bodies need more nutrition and fewer calories as our metabolism slows down. Adding nutrient dense foods with lots of color will add more nutrition. The darker the food, the higher the antioxidant and nutrient punch. For example, black or red beans have a higher iron and antioxidant value. Spinach has more nutrition than iceberg lettuce.
2. Add more spice to your life. This is meant to be taken literally. While many may not embrace eating lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, spices and herbs are packed with nutrition. A few of the powerhouses include basil, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, oregano, rosemary and turmeric. Make up your own herb and spice blend or rub for barbecued meats or seafood. See the recipes tab on http://www.susanpiergeorge.com
3. Get adequate protein. With each decade after our 30’s, we lose 3-10% of our muscle mass. Consuming adequate protein is essential in maintaining muscle mass, nervous system health, satiety and immunity. How much is adequate? About 1/3 to 1/2 your body weight in grams of protein should do the trick. For example, if you weigh 150 lbs., 50-75 grams of protein per day will fulfill your needs. One ounce of animal protein contains about 7 grams; soy protein products typically contain about 3-4 grams of protein per ounce; ½ cup canned beans contain about 6 grams protein.
4. Carbs are good for you. We boomers have seen the low carb diets come and go. Here’s what’s for sure-complex carbs are good for you. We need them for B vitamins which help with metabolism, nervous system health and their anti-inflammatory properties. They also provide satiety, boost immune health, heart health and assist with digestion. Sources of complex carbs include whole grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, seeds.
5. The Importance of vitamin D. Vitamin D has been linked with a number of conditions including brain health, bone health, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and immune related illnesses. If you live above the latitude of Los Angeles or Atlanta you are likely not getting enough vitamin D in the winter. Supplementation is something to discuss with your healthcare practitioner. Both vitamin D2 and D3 are good sources, however D3 has been shown to have better absorption. Natural sources include sunshine (5-30 minutes a few days per week), cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, tuna, fortified foods such as milk and cereals. The current daily recommended intake of vitamin D over age 50 is 800-1,000 IU.
Despite our natural inclination, taking control of our health and eating a balanced diet is nothing to rebel against. Including many of the foods mentioned above in your diet, getting regular exercise, sunshine, and making the most out of each day will keep you on the course to healthy aging. What are the strategies that help you live well and age with gusto?
Susan M. Piergeorge, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and nutritionist. She is the author of the book Boomer Be Well! Rebel Against Aging through Food, Nutrition and Lifestyle, 2011, Asante Publications, LLC.